David glanced about but, thankfully, no one had seen them.
“Devour me?” he asked.
“Oh, yes. Probably while you’re still alive and kicking,” she added.
At first, he wanted to laugh. But for some reason he found it impossible.
“Look, do we really have time for this?” he asked, waving a hand at the museum around them. “Aren’t we just sitting ducks in here?”
“No, no,” she replied, smiling. “No one will find us here. Besides,” she added, taking him by the arm again, “there are some things I have to show you.”
As they entered the wide, arched doorway to the Ancient & Prehistoric Gallery, Dave tried to smile.
“Another of their dining preferences,” Cyndi continued, “is to suck your eyeballs right out of their sockets and slurp them down like oysters.” She said this while smiling. “Then, they’ll bite your tongue and rip it out by the roots—all while you’re still breathing. Or trying to.”
“Uh huh. Nice. But, Cyn—”
“—Then, they’ll rip off your head and suck out all the goop, like a big cherry cordial. With any luck, you’ll be dead before they start in on your genitals.”
Dave stared back at her.
“Hey,” she said, shrugging, “you asked.”
“You’re serious, aren’t you?”
“As a heart attack, with cancer, on rye,” she answered.
“Well, why stop now?” he said, and gulped. “Then what will they do?”
“Simple. Go on about their business—preparing the way for their Master’s return, December 21st.”
“Their . . . Master?”
“The Shining One, the great Sun God himself: Apollo.”
“Whoa, back up a sec,” Dave said. “Aren’t we mixing cultures here? You said the Nephi . . . whatevers are in the bible, which is Hebrew. Apollo was a Greek god, wasn’t he? Of the sun, music, poetry, divination . . .”
“Indeed,” she said. “Apollo was one of the original Fallen. Even the bible speaks of him. In Revelations 9, he is called ‘Abaddon.’”
“You’ve lost me. How can the Greek Apollo and the Hebrew Abaddon be one and the same?”
“Come along now, David. Can’t you guess?” she asked. “They’re all the same. All the demi-gods, giants and heroes of old—the Sumerian Anunnaki, the Greek Olympians, even the Mayan gods—all the same. Same stories, same creatures. All Fallen . . . all damned. But the only one whose name was the same in Greek and Roman myth was Apollo. Oh! Look!” she cried, her voice echoing off the walls.
At first, Dave was sure he’d see a giant Nef-il-thing, or Anunnaki. Some batrachian monstrosity straight out of Lovecraft. Instead, Cyndi pointed toward a row of fetishes, or statuettes, from Ancient Egypt.
“What the hell, Cyn?” he said. “You trying to give me a heart attack?”
Now she was giggling at the ancient figures, which were lined along an Egyptian wall, all in a row. There was the jackal-headed Anubis, then Ma’at, Thet, Osiris, even a depiction of Egypt’s premier goddess, Isis. It was toward the latter of these that Cyndi was pointing.
“Look how thin they made her! Ridiculous. Isis wasn’t some hipless, flat-chested papyrus reed. She was buxom, beautiful and proud—the Queen of her sex. The Egyptians could be such prudes at times.”
“You still haven’t told me why these things would want to ‘devour’ me and suck my brains out like a big cherry cordial.”
She looked back to him and sighed, her big hoop earrings jiggling slightly.
“All right, then: the Executive Summary. Ready, Caveman?”
“Ready as I’ll ever be. Yuppie,” he added.
“Very well,” she replied. “The Neph—I mean, the Fallen—were angels created by the Elohim hundreds of thousands of years ago, to serve as early man’s Watchers.”
“And why did early man need ‘Watchers?’”
“Well, he’d already shown himself to be, um . . . somewhat wayward,” she said. “That little episode with the apple and the serpent, in the Garden of Eden?”
“Oh, yeah,” Dave said. “That.”
“The Elohim saw that not only did man need a Savior, to redeem him from his original folly—his Fall—he would need a band of Watchers, as well. To keep an eye on things while the Elohim were busy elsewhere.”
Then Dave remembered: Sitchin . . . the Sumerians . . . the Anunnaki.
“Hey, didn’t the Sumerians refer to their Garden as ‘E.DIN’? Isn’t that where—”
“Exactly,” she answered. “All the myths and religions begin in Sumer—which the Egyptians later called Ta Neter, meaning ‘Land of the Watchers.’ Moses merely copied down a tale that was already thousands of years old, and E.DIN became Eden, while the serpent became Satan.”
“So . . . what became of these Watchers? And E.DIN?”
“The Elohim declared that man’s Savior had to descend from the original line of Adam—his bloodline. But Lucifer, the Resistor, immediately set about ruining that goal.”
“As I said, the sons of God began to notice the daughters of men,” she explained. “Gradually, over many generations, the Watchers became . . . very attracted to human women.”
“Right, right. I remember.”
“Lucifer came up with a bold and original plan: to destroy the Adamic bloodline and prevent a savior from ever being born.”
“How do you think, Nimrod?” she asked. “By pissing in the gene pool.”
“By contaminating human DNA with inhuman, angelic DNA, so that no savior could ever come from the pure line of Adam.”
“Ahh. And he did this by—”
“By using the Watchers’ greatest weakness against them. Magnifying the itch until it was insatiable. At first, the Watchers resisted the temptation—it was, after all, unnatural. For heavenly beings to even think of joining themselves in that way to mortals was repugnant—like bestiality. They agreed never to think of it or discuss it again.”
“But then . . .” he said, leaning closer; and from here, he caught a whiff of the sweet, yet piquant perfume she wore. It was an exotic, sexy blend, a musky, spicy fragrance that hinted of incense and the rarest oils of ancient Araby: hyssop, cinnamon and cassia. Her eyes were so erotic, hypnotic, and her lips just whispered kisses.
“But then, over the course of many centuries,” she continued, “the immortal could no longer refuse the mortal. Year after year, lifetime upon lifetime, watching human beauty age, wither and die—ineluctably, irresistibly, until they simply could no longer resist. And, so, finally, they . . . fell.”
She nodded. “The Grigori—the Watchers—left their first estate, fell to earth and mated with mortal women. ‘…And they took them wives of all which they chose.’”
“There’s that phrase again.”
“Genesis, chapter six: ‘And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.’”
“‘Sons of God?’”
“Bene ha Elohim in Hebrew, and they were assuredly not sons of man, but of the Elohim—literally, the gods. Sons of the gods.”
“‘Let us create man in our own image? . . .’”
“Any idea what happens next?” she asked.
He shook his head. “Didn’t like Sunday School.”
“‘There were giants in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.’”
Dave nodded. “OK, that does sound familiar. Not from Sunday School, but from Sitchin. He spoke of the ‘men of renown,’ that the word ‘renown’ is a mistranslation of the Sumerian word ‘shem,’ meaning ‘flying ship.’”
Another nod. “And the word ‘giant’ here is . . . that other name, which stems from the Hebrew word ‘naphal,’ meaning ‘to fall.’ Because that’s just what they did—they fell to earth in order to mate and live among their human women, coming to ground at Mt. Hermon, in Northern Israel. The Sumerians—the first known human civilization—called them ‘Anunnaki,’ meaning ‘Those Who From Heaven To Earth Came.’”
“And you’re saying they’re the same as the biblical Nefil-whatevers?”
“Some would argue the point, but I think so,” she said. “If you trace these beings through all the different mythos of all the ancient cultures, you’ll find the same stories—same wars, same intrigues, even the same love affairs. But whatever they are called—Anunnaki, Fallen Ones, Watchers—one truth comes through loud and clear, from every ancient culture: they spawned a race of mutants, giants—half angel, half human—whom early man worshipped as demigods and heroes.”
“Like the Olympians of ancient Greece? Apollo, Mercury and so on?”
“Exactly like Apollo, Mercury and so on. And before them, the Titans,” she said. “Only the names vary from one culture to the next.”
“Except for Apollo.”
“Correct again. Only, in John’s Revelation, he is called ‘Abaddon.’ But in the very next line he adds, ‘In the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon,’ which was indeed the Grecian form of the name Apollo.”
“Wow. So . . . even the bible confirms it.”
“Yes,” she said. “And he is definitely the son of Satan. Remember what the Spirit says to the Church of Pergamos in Revelations Four: ‘I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is . . .’”
“What’s that mean?” Dave asked.
“Satan’s seat? The only one of these cities that had anything like a throne or altar to other gods was Pergamos. Have you ever seen the magnificent altar in the Deutches Museum, in Berlin?”
“Oh, hell’s bells, you’re right: The Altar of Zeus! From Pergamos! So, you’re saying Zeus was . . . Satan?”
She nodded. “The original Fallen angel, and the father of all the Nephilim who followed. Yes. The very same. And his greatest son was? . . .”
“The same. The gorgeous, golden god of the sun, the same one who flayed the Satyr Marsyus alive for challenging him in music. Ripped his skin off him and hung it from a tree—all while poor Marsyus was still breathing. He begged Apollo to spare him, but as Ovid wrote:
“‘ . . . as he cried the skin cracked from his body / In one wound, blood streaming over muscles,/ Veins stripped naked, pulse beating; entrails could be / Counted as they moved; even the heart shone red / Within his breast.’”
“Pretty,” said David. “So, you’re saying . . . what are you saying?”
“He is what’s coming through the Dark Rift on December 21st.”
David could only blink at her. Twice.
“Read Revelations, Chapter 9,” she continued. “He will come to earth and release all the imprisoned Fallen Ones that Yahweh banished there hundreds of millennia ago. They will be loosed upon the earth at the End of Days, to inaugurate the Time of Tribulation—seven years of hell on earth. Which gives you . . .” and here she glanced at her wristwatch “. . . about three weeks.”
“To what? Stop the Apocalypse? Right, like—”
“Or at least delay it, David. Yahweh doesn’t want it to happen, you know. It’s up to mankind to fight these things, at the end. But you can only do this if you return to Israel. That’s where all the answers are. And it all begins with finding the key to God, to unravel the mystery. Do that, and everything else will follow.”
“The . . . key to God.”
“OK, I’ll bite. What is this . . . God Key?”
“For that, you will have to speak with Dr. Galilei. I gave you his card for a reason, Nimrod. Go call him.”
“What, now? Tonight?”
“Yes, now. Tonight. But hurry, he’ll be turning in soon.”
“How would you—” but Dave wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer to that question. He excused himself and went in search of a payphone; his cell was practically useless anymore, since the sunspots began—and the asteroids he’d been reading about in the newspapers. Which were apparently coming through the Mayan “Dark Rift,” or “Black Road,” the central axis of the Milky Way, the subject of the “Great Alignment” on December 21, 2012. In other words, the day the world ended. In three weeks.
According to a bunch of dead Indians in Mexico.
Dismissing these thoughts, he stalked toward the rear of the first floor, still trying to absorb this fresh nonsense (Nef-il-things? Watchers? God Key?) Bizarre. He had no idea Cyndi was this far gone. Why did the great-looking ones always have to be so crazy? But what the hell, she’d hired him when no one else would, so . . .
He glanced around the giant room he was in, looking for strange eyes upon them, watching for watchers. Nothing but Nefil- statues. Demons, apparently. He finally found a payphone and called the number on the card Cyndi had given him. He caught Dr. Galilei at home, just turning in for the night—just as Cyndi had predicted.
They set an interview time for noon Wednesday, on campus. Which gave him 1½ days to formulate his questions, narrow them down and be ready. The physicist sounded sober, serious and seriously geeky. Which seemed just right to him.
Satisfied he’d done all he could in pursuit of Cyndi’s “God Key,” David returned to where she stood giggling at the other Egyptian funerary fetishes.
To Dave, this seemed disrespectful somehow, at least discourteous. But . . . that was Cyndi: always irreverent. She pointed out statuettes of a few of the Nefil-whatsits, including the Egyptian gods Seth, Ra and Osiris, brother and consort to Egypt’s premier goddess, Isis. Then, at 11:00 pm, they wound their way toward the exit.
And all the while, David’s mind was totally preoccupied—not with any of the absurdities Cyndi had told him. What he couldn’t stop thinking about was just what the hell had happened last Friday night, in Israel.
The Washington Post headline haunted him. Two people murdered in their hotel room, a third kidnapped and killed in the desert, while he, Dave Connors, had been allowed to escape? It made no sense. Maybe he would have to go back to Israel after all.
Nah. That was crazy thinking.
They headed for the door.
He checked all around them. Again. And even though he was with the sexiest, most beautiful woman he’d ever known, whose prisoner he still was (at least in his own heart), all he could think about was seeing Dr. Galilei on Wednesday—the one person with a sketch of the Roswell symbols.
True, it wasn’t a photograph, but if he could compare the two sets of symbols side-by-side, he’d see for himself. And if they were even remotely similar, then . . .
“Come along, David, they’re closing,” Cyndi called. She was already heading for the door. He’d been so absorbed in his Roswell reverie he hadn’t noticed where she was going. He followed her to the main double doors, pushed one of them open for her with his left hip and stepped into the night.
An Indian Summer night, at that: the weather was velvety wet, with just a hint of winter in the wind. With the river and sea only a few blocks away, and the old, Colonial gardens filled with foxglove and hemlock, the night air carried a whiff of what the 18th Century must have smelled like: a dusty, musky, antique scent, combined with a briny sea breeze. Northern Virginia nights in late November were magical, no doubt of that. As was the woman walking with him—the one he was trying so hard not to fall for again. Not after that first time. No, it was over, done with, they were friends and that was that. No falling head over heels again—not for her, not for anyone. Ever again.
As they reached the corner of North Union and turned south, headed for the parking lot, Dave thought he saw someone standing in the mouth of Fayette Alley, watching them. He couldn’t pick out any features, merely a pearl-gray, motionless silhouette. Before he could remark on it, Cyndi reached over and squeezed his biceps.
“Cyndi, I wish to hell you wouldn’t do that.”
“Mmm . . . a strapping youth, like Apollo. Just the kind Isis would gobble up . . .”
“Yeah? I’ll gobble you up,” he started to say, before the screech of tires pierced the night and the car with no headlights came rocketing out of the blackness at them.
David tried to yell “Look out!” but it was too late: the black, mashed-in rice-burner jumped the curb as he yanked Cyndi by the collar and threw her out of the way, then took the hit on his left hip.
Then felt himself go flying, head over heels in the dark, as if in love with the night.